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15 Tips for Conducting Systematic Literature Reviews for Your Project

15 Tips for Conducting Systematic Literature Reviews for Your Project

15 Tips for Conducting Systematic Literature Reviews for Your Project


Systematic reviews of the literature have their roots in medicine and are associated with practice that is based on that evidence. An expanding range of review types has resulted from the growth of evidence-based practice. A crucial component of evidence-based research in healthcare, systematic reviews and meta-analyses are still rather unclear.

If a review is founded on an articulated issue, selects pertinent studies, evaluates their quality, and summarizes the evidence using explicit methods, it is said to be systematic. Traditional reviews and commentary and systematic reviews are distinguished by their explicit and systematic approaches.

15 Tips for Conducting Systematic Literature Reviews for Your Project
15 Tips for Conducting Systematic Literature Reviews for Your Project

A systematic literature review, also known as an SLR, is a process for gathering, identifying, and critically evaluating the available research studies, such as articles, conference proceedings, books, and dissertations. An SLR provides the reader with the most recent research on a topic. The objective is to review key ideas from the body of knowledge regarding research problems to identify potential areas for additional study. A systematic literature review lays out several procedures to organize the review methodically.

A systematic literature review (SLR) identifies, picks, and evaluates research to address a specific issue that has been stated. The criteria should be clearly outlined before the review, and the systematic review should adhere to a clearly defined process or plan. It was a thorough, transparent search that was done across numerous databases and grey literature, and it was one that other researchers could duplicate.

It entails organizing a carefully considered search strategy that clearly emphasises or responds to a stated question. The review specifies the categories of data that were looked up, analyzed, and published within specified periods. The review must contain the search phrases, search tactics (including database names, platforms, and dates of search), and limits.

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Tips for conducting a systematic literature review

It takes a lot of work to do a systematic literature review (SLR), which entails finding, selecting, evaluating critically, and synthesizing pertinent research publications on a certain subject. Below are some tips for conducting a systematic literature review for a research project:

1. Form a team.

Utilizing several reviewers will help to reduce bias and strengthen analysis when doing a systematic literature review. A decent rule of thumb is to require a minimum of two, with a third being available in case of a tie. In addition, you might need to work with literature screeners, statisticians to evaluate the data, and subject matter experts to help with the search.

2. Identify your research question

For the purpose of directing your research and evaluation, make sure it is precise, targeted, and well-defined. It’s crucial to establish your research topic and choose the main search terms to guide you in finding relevant papers before beginning your literature review. Your study question or purpose should be stated clearly.

It takes a lot of work to do a systematic literature review (SLR), which entails finding, selecting, evaluating critically, and synthesizing pertinent research publications on a certain subject. To identify your research question:, Make a few fast searches of the relevant literature to determine what has already been studied, what research questions have been put up, and how you might focus your research.

Start posing inquiries about your subject. When a researcher believes he has formed his question, he or she should analyze it by determining what new knowledge would result from the study. Is the question crystal clear? And is your inquiry precise yet not overly complicated?

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3. Make a thorough search plan.

Create a methodical search plan that is comprehensive and uses the right keywords, databases, and search operators (such as Boolean operators and truncation). You can create a search strategy to identify pertinent research once you decide on your search criteria. This could entail performing several database searches (such as PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science), employing particular search operators, and establishing inclusion and exclusion standards.

A researcher needs a thorough plan on how he will find and assess the research that is relevant to the topic of his inquiry. A researcher’s systematic literature review procedure needs to include the following: goals of the project, the exact techniques and procedures that will be employed, and the requirements for each study’s eligibility on how he intends to get data from various experiments and what analysis will be conducted.

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4. Create an inclusion/exclusion criterion.

Establish standards for studies to be included or excluded. This has to include information on the sources’ categories (such as scholarly articles or conference papers), publication dates, and other pertinent details.

5. Choosing appropriate work

A thorough search for studies should be conducted. Without regard to language, various written and digital resources should be searched. The review questions should be the direct antecedents of the research selection criteria, which should be predetermined. It’s important to document the reasons for inclusion and exclusion.

To identify all the research pertinent to your issue when creating a systematic literature review, you must do a thorough search. Again, your librarian will be helpful in this situation. They ought to be able to direct you to all the top databases for your subject and assist you in developing a thorough search strategy.

6. Examine studies before include

You must filter the studies you have discovered after searching to ascertain which ones are pertinent to your study issue. This can entail reading the complete texts of the papers after reviewing the titles and abstracts.

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7. Utilize reference management tools.

To effectively organize and manage your search results and citations, use reference management software such as EndNote, Mendeley, or Zotero.

8. Work with experts and stay current

Work together with specialists in the field or seasoned researchers to make sure your systematic review is rigorous and high-quality. To keep your review current, look for and include new research that fits your criteria as you go along with the review.

9. Record the details of your search.

Keep thorough records of your search technique, including the databases you used, the search words you used, and the date you searched. This documentation is essential for reproducibility and transparency.

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10. Examine and choose studies.

Examine the titles and summaries of the retrieved studies to find anything pertinent. Once you have chosen studies that fit your inclusion criteria, conduct a full-text review. Your reviewers must carry out this task while following the guidelines outlined in your research procedure.

Two stages comprise the screening process: picking the relevant titles and abstracts from all pre-screened and reading through the full-text papers of the chosen studies. Make sure reviewers record the studies they exclude along with their justifications.

11. Evaluation of study quality

Every stage of the review process requires consideration of the study’s quality. Your reviewers should assess the standard of the methodology used in your selected full-text articles. Using general critical evaluation guides and design-based quality checklists, create an evaluation checklist that closely follows your research methodology and includes a standardized scoring system, assessments on the calibre of each study, and sensitivity analysis.

With that, your selected research should be subjected to a more thorough quality assessment. These thorough quality evaluations will examine heterogeneity and influence choices on whether to do a meta-analysis. They also assist in determining the validity of inferences and formulating suggestions for more study. Having this in mind, the researcher might ask the following questions:

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12. Get the information

For transparency and replication, each step of the data-gathering process needs to be documented. Create a standardized collection form to gather pertinent data from every study that is included systematically. Make such a data collection form, and then assign your reviewers to gather information from the relevant research. This should cover the study’s features, procedures, findings, and major conclusions.

13. Examine the outcomes

Compile and enumerate the results of the chosen studies. To assemble the data, you can employ techniques like thematic analysis, meta-analysis (if appropriate), or narrative synthesis. Also, establish a common outcome measurement that may be used to compare studies based on their effect sizes. Create a table and add your data results to it.

This is because data synthesis involves tabulating research characteristics, standards, and outcomes and using statistical techniques to compare studies and combine their outcomes (meta-analysis). Make a forest plot to see how the research differences differ.

Then, check the data for problems. It may involve disparity and the absence of overlap between the lines of different studies inside the forest plot. Planning should go into the investigation of heterogeneity and its origins. Again, note any excluded research in this section for your records.

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14. Interpret and present the findings

When analyzing your results, take into account many elements. These include restrictions, the quality of the evidence, biases, application, financial ramifications, and implications for practice or research in the future. Consider how well your suggestions hold up and assign your evidence the proper grade. The best course of action is to create a thorough presentation plan for the findings of your systematic study.

And look for advice that will be evaluated in light of the strengths and shortcomings of the available data. A determination should be made regarding whether the objectives were met and whether there was any bias while interpreting the results. The findings will assist in deciding whether the systematic review’s overall conclusions can be relied upon.

15. Write the findings.

Subsequently, you must clearly and succinctly summarize the findings of your systematic literature review. To show your findings, you can use tables and figures together with a narrative overview of the main findings. These recommendations are based on the study literature and methods covered.

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